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This is very practical help we can give.

These people are becoming very sensible of the baneful effects produced on their morals, their health & existence by the abuse of ardent spirits: and some of them earnestly desire a prohibition of that article from being carried among them. the legislature will consider whether the effectuating that desire would not be in the spirit of benevolence & liberality which they have hitherto practised towards these our neighbors, and which has had so happy an effect towards conciliating their friendship.
To the Senate and House of Representatives, January 27, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Benevolent leaders are sensitive to the concerns of the less powerful.
In this report, the President recommended a number of actions on behalf of the Indians. Here he asks Congress to extend the “benevolence & liberality” already demonstrated toward the tribes and prohibit the sale of alcohol among them. Natives themselves recognized that liquor harmed “their morals, their health & existence.” A month later, Congress granted the President the authority to limit or prevent its sale.

In another part of this report, Jefferson suggested changing capital punishment from hanging to firing squad. Indians found hanging so repugnant they were reluctant to turn accused persons over for trial.

“I have been very privileged to see Mr. Boone and Mr. Clark …
I can’t wait to hear Mr. Jefferson.”
Vice-President, Site Development Engineering, St. Louis
Your audience can’t wait to hear Mr. Jefferson, either!
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I have had it with you!

Having daily to read voluminous letters & documents for the dispatch of the public affairs, your letters have consumed a portion of my time which duty forbids me any longer to devote to them. your talents as a divine I hold in due respect … of the special communications to you of his will by the supreme being, I can have no evidence, and therefore must ascribe your belief of them to the false perceptions of your mind. it is with real pain that I find myself at length obliged to say in express terms what I had hoped you would have inferred from my silence. Accept of my respects & best wishes.
To David Austin, January 21, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Even patient leaders have their breaking points.
This is an extraordinary response from a very self-controlled but obviously exasperated man!

Since Jefferson’s inauguration 10 months earlier, the minister Austin had written to him 26 times. Austin offered advice and criticism, begged for a face-to-face meeting, almost insisted on a job, and suggested he had divine solutions to the President’s biggest problems. Finally, the confrontation-hating Jefferson had had enough. His blunt reply made these points:
1. I am too busy to read any more of your letters.
2. I respect your position as a minister.
3. Your claim God has spoken to you must be self-deception.
4. My lack of reply should have told you I wasn’t interested.
5. Since you didn’t grasp that, it grieves me that I must tell you so outright.
5. I will be respectful of you in concluding this letter.

Undeterred for a time, Austin wrote six more letters in the next four months and a seventh and final letter in 1804.

“I would highly recommend your organization consider Mr. Lee for an event
and assure you it will be very memorable for years to come.”
President, Nevada Association of Land Surveyors
Let Thomas Jefferson create a memorable event for your members.
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You would think I cut ALL their throats!

It is rare I can indulge myself in the luxury of philosophy. your letters give me a few of those delicious moments …
I found the country entirely in the enemy’s hands [Federalist officeholders in 1801]. it was necessary to dislodge some of them. out of many thousands of officers in the US. 9. only have been removed for political principle, & 12. for delinquencies chiefly pecuniary[relating to money]. the whole herd have squealed out, as if all their throats were cut.
To Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours, January 18, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Determined leaders see even their smallest actions condemned.
The Frenchman de Nemours had moved his family to America to escape the terror in France. He was a kindred soul and his letter provided the President a rare opportunity to respond in kind.

de Nemours inquired if this country would really adopt the principles Jefferson espoused. He replied yes, even though his political opposition was intractable. He gave this one example: Of 1000’s of Federalist job holders, he had dismissed only 21. More than half those dismissals resulted from improper handling of government funds. Even with that very small action, all the Federalists “squealed out,” as if he had slaughtered them all.

“We wanted something different.
We knew you would grab their attention with your unique portrayal.”
President, Excellence in Missouri Foundation
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Leave a comment Posted in Politics Tagged , , , , , , |

Please judge by results, not by lack of response

… although it is all important for public as well as personal considerations, that I should recieve information of every interesting occurrence, yet it is little in my power to entitle myself to it by regular correspondence on my part. in fact it is rare I can answer a private letter at all, being for the most part obliged to leave even my best friends to read their answer in what is done, or not done, in consequence of their letters. this must account for my late answer to your’s of the 29th. ult. and for my failures to answer at all on other occasions …
To James Cheetham, January 17, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Busy leaders know actions count more than words.
The President appreciated all communication to him but acknowledged time did not permit to answer every letter. He even struggled to keep up with his private correspondence. Apparently Cheetham had written multiple times, asking help to locate a document he needed for a history he was writing. This was Jefferson’s first reply.

Jefferson couldn’t help with the original document but identified another source that he had verified as authentic. He satisfied Cheetham’s request by passing that source on to him along with this observation: Even my best friends have to judge by the results from their inquiries, even if I fail to answer those inquiries directly.

“…we were delighted to see a very professional and accurate portrayal …
And then to open up for questions after the presentation was even better.”
Executive Director, Missouri Society of Professional Surveyors
Mr. Jefferson will delight your audience!
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Destroy this letter!

… a certain description of persons are so industrious in misconstruing & misrepresenting every word from my pen, that I must pray you, after reading this, to destroy it, that no accident happening to it may furnish matter for new slanders.
To James Cheetham, January 17, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Thin-skinned leaders are wary of adding fuel to the fire.
Cheetham asked Jefferson’s help in procuring a certain 1794 document for a history he was writing of that period. The President gave his thoughts on the matter, including reference to another source published in 1796 which contained a verbatim account of the document’s contents.

The document’s subject might arouse controversy, even nine years later. Jefferson hated controversy, though plenty came his way. He could be very thin-skinned at times and insisted Cheetham destroy this letter after reading it, to deprive his political enemies of any more material. Still, Jefferson kept his own copy of the letter, as he did with all his correspondence.

“Again, a very heartfelt thank you for sharing your time, talent and knowledge
with the RSES conference attendees.”
Refrigeration Service Engineers Society, Biloxi, MI
Mr. Jefferson is eager to share his time, talent and knowledge with your attendees.
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Leave a comment Posted in Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , |

I would LOVE to, but …

no person on earth can entertain a higher idea than I do of the value of your collection … and I very much wish it could be made public property … you know that one of the great questions which has divided political opinion in this country is Whether Congress are authorised by the constitution to apply the public money to any but the purposes specially enumerated [listed] in the Constitution? those who hold them to the enumeration, have always denied that Congress have any power to establish a National academy …
To Charles Willson Peale, January 16, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Constitutional leaders limit their authority, emotion notwithstanding.
Peale (1741-1827), noted artist and friend of Jefferson’s, established Peale’s American Museum in Philadelphia, to chronicle the nation’s natural (scientific) history. Peale asked his friend if the nation might purchase his museum and move it to Washington to become a national academy.

Jefferson the scientist would have jumped on such an offer but for the Constitution. Instead, he referred to the debate in Congress whether the national government was limited in spending money only on the purposes listed in that document. His opinion was that the majority of Congress agreed with a very limited role.

Though Jefferson loved the idea of acquiring Peale’s museum for the national capital, he held the same opinion as Congress, expressed in a recent post. Perhaps it was his friendship with Peale that kept him from declining the offer personally, as he did in that post, laying the responsibility with the Congress.

Peale’s museum did become the nation’s premier repository of natural history specimens, though it remained a private endeavor. Many plant and animal specimens collected by Lewis & Clark found their permanent home there. Some years later, one of Peale’s sons moved the museum to Baltimore.

“You are an amazingly talent man.
What an incredible portrayal you gave us … in Washington, D.C.”

President, National Speakers Association
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Originally posted at

Leave a comment Posted in Constitutional issues, Natural history (science) Tagged , , , , , , , , |

You are both admirable. men. Do not be divided!

I am sorry to learn that an uneasiness has grown up between the Chevalier Yrujo and yourself. as far as is within my own observation I can bear witness in favor of both that I have never heard either say a word to the prejudice of the other … [Yrujo’s] worth & candour being known to us would facilitate affairs between the two governments … and I observed your conduct on all subsequent occasions to have been in the same spirit.
To Joseph Yznardi, Sr., January 10, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders seek to mend fences between feuding parties.
Yrujo had been Spain’s minister to America, recalled at President Adam’s request over a disagreement Yrujo had with Adams’ Secretary of State Pinckney. Yznardi functioned both in Spain’s diplomatic corps and as one of Jefferson’s wine merchants.
Learning that Yrujo’s recall had caused a breach between the two respected Spaniards, Jefferson was eager to help mend the rift. He did that in a way that affirmed his regard for both men, testifying:
1. He never heard either say an ill word about the other.
2. Yrujo’s character would be an asset in America’s dealings with Spain.
3. Yznardi demonstrated “the same spirit” as Yrujo.

“Our mission is to deliver real value to our audience.
Due to your efforts, we fulfilled that goal.”
Rural Cellular Association, Boston, MA
Mr. Jefferson will deliver real value to your audience.
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Leave a comment Posted in Diplomacy Tagged , , , , , , |

A curious but secure way to send cash by mail!

… I [am] … inclosing you fifteen hundred dollars, in bank bills, to wit 14. of 100. D. each, 1. of 50. 1. of 20. & 3. of 10. D. each. these, for greater security, I have cut in two, and forward now only one half of each bill. the other half shall follow by another post. they are wrapt in water-proof paper. the intention of this remittance is to enable you to pay for me … [the creditors listed below] …
To George Jefferson, January 7, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Careful leaders find a way to do what needs to be done.
George Jefferson was Thomas Jefferson’s cousin and business agent, receiving and paying bills on behalf of his client. With no banks to perform these functions, the President sent $1,500 cash by mail to his agent to forward to three creditors.

Correspondence through the postal service was not always private or secure. Jefferson suspected his mail was opened regularly and often used private couriers for sensitive communications. This time he did use the post to send a $1,500, what might be $30-40,000 in today’s currency, but he protected himself in a novel way. He cut each of the 19 bills in half and mailed the halves in two separate shipments. Each shipment by itself was worthless, but the bills could be reattached when both shipments arrived. (There must have been some provision for one or both shipments being lost in transit, but that is not explained here.)

The post from Washington City would have been by boat down the Potomac, through the Chesapeake Bay to Norfolk, then up the James River to Richmond to George Jefferson’s place of business. All the loading and unloading onto boats and transit over water explains why the severed bank notes were “wrapt in water-proof paper.” This may be some of the water-proofed paper he marveled about in the March 29 post.

“… I would stress that you really connected with our members
as you brought Thomas Jefferson to life in a memorable manner.”
President and CEO, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Mr. Jefferson will connect with your audience in a meaningful and memorable manner.
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You are barking up the wrong tree.

Th: Jefferson … acknoleges … [your letters] proposing that persons should be employed by the general government to explore mines of metal & coal, to assay ores … designate canals, roads &c but observes to him that these objects not being among the powers transferred by the States to the General government, nor among the purposes for which the latter is authorized to levy money on the people, the State governments alone are competent to the pursuits proposed.
To Benjamin Henfrey, January 5, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Constitutional leaders understand the limits of their authority.
The British scientist and businessman had written Jefferson at length recommending the hiring of a geologist/engineer to study mineral ores and design roads and canals in the various states. He also introduced a teaser, volunteering the demonstrate for the President a process of his own, capturing gas vapor from coal and using it to provide lamp lighting.

Henfrey then offered his own services for hire, to do what he proposed.

Jefferson the scientist would have loved the new information Henfrey’s proposal might provide. No doubt he was intrigued by gas lighting. Still, he shut Henfrey down cold. Why?
1. Such exploration was not a power given by the states to the national government.
2. Nor was it one of the purposes for which the government could tax its citizens.
The Constitution clearly left that authority and expense to the individual states.

“It was impressive to notice the entire banquet hall silent with everyone,
including the hotel banquet staff, paying rapt attention to your portrayal.”
Forestry Conservation Communications Association
Mr. Jefferson will hold your audience in rapt attention, too.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Constitutional issues, Leadership styles Tagged , , , , , , , , |

This is a REALLY good idea! I hope it works!

I inclose you a pamphlet giving some account of the new operation of making cloths &c. waterproof; as also a piece of paper, one half of which is waterproof. I have recieved cloth for a surtout coat [overcoat], which I find, on wearing it in rain, to answer perfectly. the prices for making cloathes waterproof are so moderate, that if it does not injure the quality of the stuff, it will become extensively useful.
To Thomas Mann Randolph, January 1, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders keep a sharp eye out for broadly beneficial inventions.
Ever the scientist, Jefferson reported a new waterproofing process to his daughter Martha’s husband. He sent a pamphlet describing it and a piece of treated paper as proof. Not only that, he had a raincoat made for himself and found it worked well.

Although cost was never an issue for Jefferson when he encountered something he wanted, that was not an issue here. The cost of waterproofing fabric was “moderate.” All that remained to be determined was if the treatment damaged the cloth. If not, he saw great potential.

“Your presentation was an excellent blend
of history, education and inspiration …”

Deputy Director, Washington Association of County Officials
Mr. Jefferson stands ready to teach AND inspire your audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
1 Comment Posted in Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , |